The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Emotional intimacy after betrayal

Maybe I'm no longer capable of being vulnerable enough to have a deep, emotional bond with Husband.

I've often said that deep trust is critical to deep love. But as I've been thinking about it, I realized that it's very common to deeply love people we know we can't trust. You can love deeply without attachment, without expectation, without an agenda, with an appreciation for all that someone is and is not.

So maybe the more correct theorem is that a deep emotional partnership requires deep trust.

I'd like to have that again with Husband, but a question remains before me like badly worn carpet: How do I open up to him without relying on trusting him?

My intellect replies that I need to trust myself to take care of my well-being, come what may. And I guess that's what I've done. I've sought help and support, learned about and drawn boundaries, taken responsibility for things that are within my control, tried hard to stay out of things that aren't mine to address, wrangled new tools. But all after the fact. After the searing, soul-shattering pain of being deeply betrayed by someone I thought I knew intimately and trusted absolutely.

So, if I must be honest, what I'm really searching for here is a way to avoid ever feeling that pain again.

Therein lies the shit. (Not the good kind.) Because to avoid pain is to avoid living. I know that, based on the life I have.

Everything is a balance between life and death, if I think about it, because if you're not living you're essentially dying. So one is choosing (if only by not choosing) life or death in every moment.

Do I take this moment and live, or do I let myself die a tiny death? And how many tiny deaths does it take to make a wasted life?

I don't want a marriage where there's no emotional intimacy, no attachment, no expectation. I don't want a marriage of loving detachment. That would be fine for many other types of relationships - friends, other family members, even a child, who is supposed to move away and become separate. But I don't what that with the person I'm drawing into my life to be my significant partner. I want attachment to deepen, and expectation to arise out of shared values, experiences and desires.

So many words that sentence us to suffering: attachment, expectation, desire.

But being attached and having expectations means living in denial of some things I've come to believe (all things change, the only thing predictable is that life is unpredictable, as adults we are solely responsible for our experience of life, the actions of others are completely beyond my control.)

How do I resolve those things?

Perhaps there is no need to resolve anything, and my longing for resolution is another manifestation of my inescapable absolutism, simultaneously blinding and crafty.

Perhaps faith is the only answer to me. Turn it over. Trust that my Higher Power is bridging a gap, doing for me what I cannot do for myself. Trust that I have everything I really need, and that everything before me, including Husband, is an opportunity.  Easy to forget when fear seeps into the cracks of life.  I need a structure that will help me remember.

Maybe my relationship with Husband is like a gym membership, and if I just get my ass up and go work out every day the results will be forthcoming.

We're all hurtling toward death anyway. What's it gonna do - kill me?



Nice to see you posting again. Although I have to admit, it seemed scattered and confused. (BTW, I was married to a woman who was a devout Christian but a serial cheater for 20 years)

I do agree with you, "that a deep emotional partnership requires deep trust". To me the two are mutually inclusive.

But I think I disagree when you say, "Everything is a balance between life and death, if I think about it, because if you're not living you're essentially dying. So one is choosing (if only by not choosing) life or death in every moment". I think this is too black & white. Within our quality of life lay numerous shades of gray. We all choose to live, it's just how much life we choose. We that have been betrayed by people we had absolute faith in forever lose that ability again. I've remarried, but even now I have a certain sense of paranoia. It comes with the territory.

So the next question is how much I will let that loss of 'absolute' trust take me down. I have concluded that while I may never fully trust again, I will not stop loving. In fact, I'll give and take as much love as I can and it will have to be good enough. Unfortunately, it's the life than I now have.

Those betrayed have truly "walked through the valley of the shadow of death", but we do emerge from it. Permanently wounded, yes, but we do emerge to live and not continue to 'die tiny deaths'.

Lastly, I can't blame you for wanting those things mentioned in your marriage (that's why I left), but if you can gain a certain measure of them, will that be enough? Has not time rebuilt some trust?

I hope you find your answers and do what's best for yourself as you seek to find your happiness and contentment.

woman.anonymous7 said...

Blazer Prophet - Thanks so much for your thoughtful and kind words. Absolutism is one of my huge blind spots, and it's good to get perspective on that. I'm working to bring more shades of gray into my life, but it's a real challenge because it's not natural for me to see the world that way. I think seeing in black and white is part of my defense against the unknown, but it's also an obstacle to peace. And perhaps that's why I'm struggling with these questions - because I want the answers to be black and white and they're not.

I also appreciate very much your reminder that there is choice in the situation - that I can choose how much the loss of absolute trust will take me down.

Thanks for helping me be present to the some of the facts of my life, which get obscured from time to time by that creeping fog of fear.

Unknown said...

I really love your blog, thank you.

My wife is in recovery for Sex Addiction, and I am in recovery from being married to a Sex Addict.

I know that "Intimacy" requires honesty, and that there is a huge issue establishing that honesty/intimacy when sex addiction has taken its grip.

I go back and forth, some days are better than others, but I am sure that my own work is important to me and my kids regardless. I am truly grateful that I am in recovery, I just wish I had found a different way here.

Where I am today is that my wife wants recovery, wants to be with me, and we want our marriage to survive. We are both working so hard, and I am so proud of her.

Life is hard. The truth is hard.

The marriage we had before is over. We are building a new one now, and we want that marriage to be to better than the first. I am here because I love my wife unconditionally, and I am with her in sickness and in health. If she cannot make progress in recovery then my own health and well-being require that I leave to provide a stable environment for our kids. Neither of us wants this, we are both working so hard, and today I can't imagine that we won't make it.

I sincerely wish you the best, my heart goes out to you, and I am thankful to have found your blog.

Thank you,

L said...

As you know, you and I are in similar turmoil at the moment, although you say it much more eloquently than I do on my blog.

I can only tell you that, aside from this week, (due to it being the one year mark of disclosure), constant work on myself has been my saving grace and kept me sane.

I think you may be on the right track by working on it, like going to the gym daily.

Dear Abbey said...

That is exactly the questions that went through my head. Only, as a recovering female sex addict myself and having ended the relationship with the non-recovering sex addict, I had to put myself first. It's tough, but like you said, we only have one life to live, and you choose the life you live.